African Development Bank Group and Research Centers Join Forces to Revolutionize African Agriculture and Enhance Food Security
The African Development Bank Group and the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centres (CGIAR) committed on Thursday to strengthen their collaboration to increase food production and provide better nutrition for Africa’s growing population.
With 65% of global uncultivated arable land, the African Development Bank believes that the continent can feed itself and the rest of the world.
African Development Bank President Dr Akinwumi Adesina received Africa-based Directors General of CGIAR at the bank headquarters in Abidjan on Thursday to forge ways of scaling up food and agricultural productivity on the continent.
CGIAR centres are located across African countries and focus on enhancing food and nutrition security, reducing poverty, and improving natural resources and ecosystem services. They are critical to achieving food security on the continent, just as their counterparts in Southeast Asia and Latin America were also key to accelerating agricultural growth and food self-sufficiency.
Thursday’s meeting was the first coordinated group visit by the four directors-general/regional directors and one deputy director general of CGIAR for Africa to a financing partner and came two days after Dr Adesina hosted a visit from United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during which the head of US diplomacy praised the bank for the exceptional efforts it is undertaking to help Africa feed itself and the rest of the world.
The leaders focused on securing long-term financing for research activities and for CGIAR to enhance its effectiveness across the continent. They also discussed capacity building for country-based national agricultural research services partners, young scientists and extension workers, and private-sector seed growers to produce certified seeds.
The Bank played a key role in the process of reforming CGIAR to make its work relevant and sustainable in Africa.
The Bank President, Dr Adesina, said: “I was pleased with the reforms at CGIAR, and we must ensure that it is held accountable for results which must be at scale. We must unlock Africa’s agricultural potential and deploy technologies to millions of African farmers. CGIAR is central to that.
“I have made agriculture central to the work of this bank and central to the future of our continent.”
Dr Adesina added that the African Development Bank, with the approval of its board of directors, could consider including CGIAR in its long-term lending programme to countries:
“CGIAR leaders have local knowledge, experience and networks and are better placed to work with national institutions to combat climate change and increase productivity and food security.”
The Bank is also keen to work with the consortium to expand its work on capacity development for young scientists and farmers.
The delegation expressed their readiness to assist the Bank’s regional member countries to implement the outcomes of the Dakar 2 Food Summit(link is external), which the Bank, the African Union, and the government of Senegal jointly convened. The January 2023 summit was attended by 34 Heads of State and Government, 75 ministers, and heads of development partners. To date, it has mobilised over $70 billion in an unprecedented global effort.
Leading the delegation, CGIAR Regional Director for Continental Africa and Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr. Simeon Ehui said: “The African Development Bank has been a long-standing partner of the CGIAR in providing technology. We are confident that the African Development Bank’s support will continue and increase.”
The Director General of the AfricaRice Centre and CGIAR Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Dr Baboucarr Manneh, commended the African Development Bank for continuing to support the institution with rice-based technologies for farmers:
“The Bank’s support for the New Rice for Africa (NERICA) varieties has led to the expansion of rice production in some African countries. We now have more than two million hectares of rice,”.
Dr Manneh added that the Bank has also supported AfricaRice through the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) Rice Compact, which has greatly impacted food productivity in many countries on the continent.
TAAT is a proven approach to scaling up technology. It is delivering significant results for wheat in Ethiopia and Sudan and for maize in Kenya and southern Africa. Following the success of TAAT phases I and II, the African Development Bank President announced that the Bank plans to roll out phase III.
The African Development Bank, together with the AfricaRice centre, recently launched the $650 million Regional West Africa Rice Development (REWARD) programme in 15 West African countries. The programme will involve one million farmers cultivating up to 750,000 hectares of land to produce 53 million tons of rice over five years.
Regional Director for Central and West Asia and North Africa, CGIAR, and Director General of the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Aly Abousabaa, spoke about the challenges in the North, where temperatures are rising. He highlighted how his centre is trying out a revolutionary rain induction system to help farmers increase yields.
Deputy Director General for Research and Development – Livestock Genetics and Feeds at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Siboniso Moyo, stressed the importance of increasing livestock productivity in Africa, and the complementary relationship between crops and livestock to ensure animals get good quality feed.
Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR), Dr Eliane Ubalijoro, spoke about the critical contribution trees must make to improving soil health:
“We also want to prioritise how we finance agriculture and transform smallholder farmers, leading to greater food security, improved nutrition, and increased biodiversity”.